After a devastating bushfire season, we have been hit by another major problem, the Covid-19 pandamic.
Children, while innocent and carefree in so many ways, are more attuned to their parents’ moods and emotions that one would expect. My daughter told us a few days ago, “Don’t worry mum and dad, if we run out of toilet paper, I still have a small roll in my room.”
We always leave a roll in there in case she gets a bloody nose at night.
So how do we explain what is happening to our children to reassure them when we are not sure what will happen in a week time?
Children have a great capacity to absorb the truth, even if they don’t know how it applies to them directly. And the truth provides them with assurance that the adults seem to have it under control. Just think of the last time your child asked you a, “Why does this happen?” or “What is this thing?” question, and your confident explanation of why a toy needs a change of batteries to work, left them happy to go about continuing their play.
But in order to tell the truth, we must first be armed with the truth. Covid-19 is a new type of bug called a virus that we have not seen before. From what we know from other similar viruses, it causes colds, coughs, sore throats, and can lead to pneumonia and respiratory shutdown, or make it very hard for people to breath properly or stop breathing.
It seems to be less harmful to children than adults, but can be dangerous to Pop and Nana, and anyone who already has a bad illness, like some children you see who carry a little blue puffer for their asthma.
That is why we do our best to visit Pop and Nana less, and see our friends less for now. Because we don’t know if someone else at the park, or shopping centre, or playground have the virus, or may catch the virus from us and make someone else very sick.
But the Doctors and Scientist are working very hard to find the medicine to cure the people who have the virus and make it less harmful.
And mommy and daddy are making sure that you children don’t catch it too.
Your confident explanation of what is happening around them will give your children some context to what is happening, regardless of whether they fully understand or not.
Children also love to be part of a solution or to feel helpful. So explaining to them how they can help mom and dad, or help their friends or family to make sure we don’t give them any sickness sets them on a mission, not to mention an excuse to get them to wash their hands. 😊
So what are sensible precaution or actions that our children can take to prevent the spread of Covid-19?
a) Wash their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. This means the soap needs to be on their hands for 20 seconds.
Even without hand sanitisers, coronaviruses are wrapped in an oily film; so as we all have been taught, soap and water removes oil from hands. Making sure that the soap is rubbed on all surfaces of the hands up to the wrist ensures that the soap clings onto the oily film of the virus and when we wash it away in water, the water, which clings on to the other part of the soap molecule, carries the virus away.
Hand washing after coming home, between activities, and before and after meals is a prudent thing to do while in school, and when out and about.
Explaining to them that washing the virus away from our hand means that the virus cannot be passed on when we touch someone or something else.
b) Don’t touch everything, and maybe not play tiggy for the next few weeks.
The main means of transmission for Corvid-19 is contact. You need to be sneezed on, or touch something or someone who has left the virus on the surface of their body or things they touch to get it. So by playing tiggy, or sharing a water bottle with a friend, or shaking hands after a game of basketball, they can get the virus and pass it to others too.
c) If they need to sneeze or cough, which is a perfectly natural thing that can be caused by dust in the air, or a multitude of other factors, make sure they cover their mouth and nose with a tissue, or their elbow, or hand. And if they use their hands, go wash it immediately.
So these few weeks may be a rollercoaster ride for Australians, but it doesn’t need to be for our children.
Just be truthful about what is happening, and give them easy to follow solutions to what they see as a potential threat, and they will feel more confident and to go about their day.